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  • I’ve put off writing this story because I’m not sure I can do him justice. For a time we were as close as brothers, shipmates often feel that way. Until I got a divorce from my first wife. You see we had married sisters. In a way it kept our friendship alive well past its normal allotted time. Usually shipmates drift apart as they leave the service and other than an occasional phone call, never see each other again. So for twenty one years after we left the service, we still were close.

    I had been dancing with a girl in The Grotto, a nightclub in Groton that our crew had almost taken up residence in. As I walked her back to her table where her girlfriends were seated, I felt a hand on my shoulder and this guy joins us as if he and I were old friends and I was just holding his place in line. He proceeded to charm the other girls at the table and before I knew it we were all dancing again.

    That was my first meeting with Ron Doty and the beginning of our friendship. We would constantly try to outdo each other with our outlandish behavior. Ron always won. There was the time I got shot at by mistaken identity. The jealous boyfriend thought I was Ron. And the time the whole crew was laughing as he came running down the pier wearing only his shoes and carrying his clothes after another narrow escape.

    So when my fiancé decided to fix him up with her sister, I was a little bit nervous at the outcome. He was scared to death to meet her. It seems I had once fixed him up with an extremely unpleasant looking date in New London, and he was gun shy.

    When she got off the bus, Ron was hiding around the corner trying to get a peek at her before commiting. When he saw she was beautiful, he appeared as if by magic and once again began charming away. It must have worked, because they soon married, had two girls, and stayed together until his death last year. Over 41 years together.

    But the Ron I knew was the wild and crazy engineman on the Trout. A man so brazen he would pretend to know me so he could meet some girls. My roommate in Charleston who would buy new dishes so he wouldn’t have to wash the dirty ones. The sailor who would pay to have his clothes laundered and starched at a laundry, rather than do it himself at a laundro-mat.

    The engineman I handed tools and parts to while we lay, dead in the water, off the coast of Mexico (He would point to a thingamajig and I would bring it to him where he lay inside a broken diesel trying to make the beast roar again).

    We were an unlikely pair. An engineman and a sonarman. Like a moth to a flame I was drawn to his wildness. If I dared mention any thing crazy to do, his response would be, “let’s go babes” and we would be off and running.

    For the last twenty years of his life, I didn’t have any contact with him. My divorce was unpleasant and I felt the need to give my wife’s family back to her…and that included Ron. She needed their support and backing. I felt that it wouldn’t be fair to her if I was still friends with her family. Silly how decisions have such rippling effects. Relationships lost. Sister-in-laws and nieces who felt abandoned and don’t trust me.

    When my son Josh called me to tell me Ron had a brain tumor and to give me his cell number, I immediately called. He told me the doc gave it to him straight. He really liked the little oriental doctor that didn’t beat around the bush. We didn’t say much else…we didn’t need to. I told him it sucked. And he laughed and agreed. I told him I loved him and his last words as we hung up were, “love ya babes”.

    I keep up with his one daughter, who is so much like him that it hurts, on Facebook. She has a son that was the apple of Ron’s eye, so I have been keeping an eye on him also. A teenager with a streak of wild in him. Damn! Ron needed to be there. He would be so proud.


    Photo is Ron with his daughter Steph. I stole it off of her facebook page.
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